The California Institute of Technology, commonly known as Caltech, is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Any ranking you check, it will be near the top, tied with other universities such as Stanford and MIT. Besides, Caltech manages JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), NASA site related to space exploration. Therefore, some of Caltech professors are actually working at JPL as well!
Caltech is located in Pasadena, just 20 minutes by metro from Los Angeles Downtown. The university is really small, around 900 undergraduate students and 1200 graduate students, and its admission rates are really low. They accept less than 2% of the people who apply every year. And people who apply to Caltech are not second-line students ;-) For example, for the Maths part of the Graduate Record Examination the average scored by students accepted at Caltech is 800. The test maximum score is 800 in this part! So, in short, they only accept people which achieved perfection in this part of the test...
Caltech also holds an astonishing record: 32 Nobel prizes among alumni and professors!! The statistics say that every 1000 people graduated from Caltech, one will be awarded a Nobel prize! Simply amazing and unrivalled by any other institution in the world.
Well, all this boring introduction is to tell you that I have been admitted to pursue MSc and PhD studies in the Electrical Engineering department in Caltech from September this year!
As I told you before, I had already decided to go to Japan for PhD studies. And I wanted to stick to my decision without hesitation, but last Tuesday everything changed... I was offered some project under the supervision of some people from JPL/NASA in topics related to space technology! In Japan, as in the previous offer by Caltech, I would be working on commercial telecom applications (design of antennas and circuits for mobile communications). Now, I was being offered the possibility of working in the topic I love: space... what can I say...
In addition to all that, professors in Caltech told me to go to Pasadena and discuss face to face with them what I wanted my research to be about! and they would pay for the trip!!! I had to take a decision before 15th April and this was last tuesday!! So, I bought a ticket for the following day and flew to LA. I left on Thursday morning and just came back this morning.
On Friday, I visited Caltech campus and several professors (3-4 in total) explained to me possible research topics they wanted me to work on! On Saturday and Sunday, I did some tourism: downtown LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Long Beach and Pasadena. On Monday, I visited JPL together with Peter Siegel, maybe the most knowledgeable person in the world of TeraHertz technology. He introduced me to some people in his group at JPL and showed to me their laboratories and the research they were doing. And told me I could possibly work in JPL if I joined his project in Caltech!!
In short, I have been offered a PhD project at one of the top universities in the world and closely working with people at JPL/NASA!! I would have two supervisors, one at Caltech and one at JPL. Simply amazing! As you can imagine, I could not say no to such an offer. Besides, I have been awarded an Atwood Fellowship 2008 and I will even get some extra money on top of the Fulbright Science and Technology Award 2008 which I already got! It is too good... I am still waiting to wake up from this dream! So, I have accepted their offer and will be moving to Pasadena, California at the end of the Summer.